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How about a tegu? Blues supposedly get around 3-3 1/2 ... a gorgeous display animal, but is really flighty and aggressive.

Now, these guys look really interesting. They are really VERY nice looking lizards - what are their temperaments like in ... bite/claw marks in unarmored humans...) Thanks for the suggestion here - tegus weren't something I'd thought of before! - Ssthisto

Oh..I didn't think you'd want something that big, or I'd have suggest red tegu. I have one and he's cool.
Cindy
Now, these guys look really interesting. They are really VERY nice looking lizards - what are their temperaments like in ... a really determined 3 to 5-foot lizard of any species can certainly leave really big bite/claw marks in unarmored humans...)

lol That certainly is a downside. :-)
I can't tell you the downside on the Argentines, blues or reds. I only have the Columbians. But all the people I've known who had the other species (snakelady is one) rave about them.
As for Columbians, they have a lot of downsides, in my book, although they are still very fascinating. They are lightning fast, spazzy, violent, and can make incredible leaps. I had to separate mine because they literally rip food from eachother's jaws, drawing blood. Now, in an unfamiliar situation they calm down because they are scared, but if they are comfortable, like they should be in their cage, they are aggressive and have a strong feeding response.I should say that I've seen a couple of Columbians that tamed down. I haven't made a great effort to socialize mine, they would probably be friendlier if they spent more time being handled. But they definitely aren't predisposed to have sweet temperaments! (When I bought them, I got them from a pet store where I was well known, and they gave me a big discount to take them off their hands.

The tegus scared all of the employees by leaping out of the cages at them.) I prefer to keep mine as display animals, so I let them be spazzy and aggressive. I just use gloves and let them know it's time for me to reach in the cage, and they leave me alone once they get the message. Kind of like how Luke was saying the more flighty monitors behave.
Jennifer
I can't tell you the downside on the Argentines, blues or reds. I only have the Columbians. But all the ... if they are comfortable, like they should be in their cage, they are aggressive and have a strong feeding response.

I don't handle my red enough, and he tries to escape, but once I get him he's pretty calm in my hands. Hasn't tried to bite. But then he's still just a baby. First one I've had, so I can't say much yet.

Cindy
really determined 3 to 5-foot lizard of any species can certainly leave really big bite/claw marks in unarmored humans...)

Oh..I didn't think you'd want something that big, or I'd have suggest red tegu. I have one and he's cool.

But do the female tegus have the huge tubby-looking jowlyness? All the photos I've seen of the reds in my preliminary searches appear to be of males, with huge gigantic jowls - and that's not my idea of ideal grins By comparison, if I really wanted to go for something my 'ideal shape' but bigger was the only real option... water monitors look like 'my ideal' as long as they're not grossly overfed. Might have tubby bodies, but they DO have the longer, narrower looking heads that gives that alert almost-avian look rather than the broad, heavy heads that for some reason seem to look less 'interested' in their surroundings.
The difference between 'looks like a maniraptoran' and 'looks like a turtle' is a big one for me. Not that I'm disrespecting turtles or tortoises, which are neat in their own right - but that blunt, short muzzle belongs on a turtle/tortoise IMHO and not on my 'dream lizard'.

Okay, okay, I admit it, I'm looking for a pet pseudo-dinosaur and not a pet lizard here - and that's why I'm drawn to things like the slender, active Australian monitors that have the more avian looks and behaviours... (And so the dino buffs say 'if you wanted a dinosaur, why not buy an ostrich?' ... answer: I'd love to. And train the critter for riding, too- but this isn't THAT newsgroup.)

- Ssthisto
By comparison, the Kimberly Rock monitors ( Varanus gouldii ?)

/Varanus glaureti/.

Ah, sorry - V. glauerti. V. gouldii are the sand monitors (and the few photos I've seen of them look nice too, but they get larger - 160 cm, about five feet long - by comparison, yes?) The yellow-white tailtip on the Gould's monitor is pretty striking, though. The Gould's would be one of several I'd consider if I were going to in my dream universe build passive-solar aviary/terraria and then could build an entire environment for them without the massive power costs of owning a VERY large lizard...
and the Green Tree monitor ( Varanus prasinus ) have EXACTLY the shape of head I like, from the photos I've seen. Very dromaeosaurid-looking heads.

Not really, from what I've seen the dromeosaurs look quite different in their cranial anatomy, although the folks who made Jurassic park did seem to base the appearence of their version of the /Velociraptor/ on monitors.

Hmmm... I'd disagree here - Velociraptor mongoliensis has a long, narrowish snout, almost-beaky in some specimens - and it's that sort of large-eyed long-snouted, nearly avian look I'm after. So do the Troodon specimens I've seen. By comparison, 'Pseudoraptor spielbergii' (A theoretical intergrade between 13-foot Deinonychus and 20-foot Utahraptor ) has a head a lot more like a Crocodile monitor (Varanus salvadorii) or even more like the Bengal Monitor (V. bengalensis) than like the tree monitors.
Kimmy rocks are known to be rather delicate. Green tree monitors even more so. There seems to be something about the very long, very skinny varanids that makes them less hardy. I would probably suggest experience with hardier monitor species first.

Is this the case even with captive-bred individuals? A few of the accounts I've read say that the Green Trees, captive-bred, are more robust and less flighty than the wild-caught individuals. I've seen less about the Kimberly Rocks, however.
There are ackies, of course. Hardy, friendly, active, within the size range you are looking for, eat mostly insects, and all in the U.S. and Europe are captive bred.

They're a possibility, though I'm not as keen on that heavily spiny-looking tail... but the babies are relatively cute little things. Are the spines (or at least, degree of spininess) a sexually dimorphic trait, or do all ackies regardless of gender have really rough-looking tails? Are 'red' ackies smoother/larger/anything other than more expensive than 'yellow' ackies?
The /Varanus tristis/ monitors (freckled goannas, black head goannas) also meet your criteria, are quite hardy, and are fairly slender.

Now, the V. tristis group does intrigue me. They're pretty close to my absolute ideal, size and shape-wise, and I'd love to hear from anyone who's got one (or a pair, or whatever) - pros, cons, caveats and suggestions.
Perhaps the New Caledonian giant geckos would work?

Now, I had a look at a photo of one of these guys, and no offense to anyone who loves 'em, but that is the OGLIEST lizard I've ever seen. I think the originators of the Shar-pei breed of dogs MIGHT have gotten their inspiration from these guys. They're so ugly they're almost cute.
At any rate, thanks again for an extremely informative post that's sent me looking in new directions...
- Ssthisto
I held a cute young monitor in the Reptile Haven. I think it was a rough-neck monitor. I heard they grow to about 4ft in lenght.

They're part of the varunus group. Varunus rudicollis
/Varanus glaureti/.

Ah, sorry - V. glauerti. V. gouldii are the sand monitors (and the few photos I've seen of them look ... and then could build an entire environment for them without the massive power costs of owning a VERY large lizard...

/V. gouldii/ (the Gould's monitor) is one of a group of very closely related monitors, including /V. panoptes/ (argus monitors), /V. flavirufus/ (sand monitors, or "flavies"/, and /V. rosenbergi/ (heath monitors, not available outside of Australia). Of the four, I have only kept argus monitors. These are the largest of the group (males reach
1.5 m (5 ft) in length and 10 kg (20 lbs) in mass, females are about athrid the mass and about 1 meter long). Arguses are high strung, jumpy, very active, fast moving, athletic, powerful, with a very powerful feeding response. They are the bulldozers of the lizard world, with massively muscled forelegs and large talons for moving earth. They have a beautiful pattern of yellow spots on brown. Although they are quick to puff up and hiss, and are squirmy when held, they are reluctant to bite in self defense. Their strong feeding response means you need to be careful for your fingers at dinner time, however.

The other monitors in the /V. gouldii/ group are supposed to be very similar, only calmer and more docile. In particular, they are all extremely active and dedicated diggers. The sand monitors /V. flavirufus/ are the smallest of the group, reaching a maximum of not much more than a meter (4 ft?), with most smaller. Sand monitors are more common than the Gould's in the U.S. pet trade.

Just a caveat - the names I used are those in common use in the states. In Australia, they are all called sand goannas, although the arguses are sometimes called yellow spot goannas or floodplain goannas.

I have a web page devoted to argus monitors here
http://www.pizards.com/hbd/argus.html
and a page devoted to their care here
http://www.pizards.com/hbd/tricks.html
Not really, from what I've seen the dromeosaurs look quite ... the appearence of their version of the /Velociraptor/ on monitors.

Hmmm... I'd disagree here - Velociraptor mongoliensis has a long, narrowish snout, almost-beaky in some specimens -

But /V. mongoliensis/ has that dip in its snout that is unmatched by any monitor.
and it's that sort of large-eyed long-snouted, nearly avian look I'm after. So do the Troodon specimens I've ... like a Crocodile monitor (Varanus salvadorii) or even more like the Bengal Monitor (V. bengalensis) than like the tree monitors.

All the theropods have a snout that is deeper than it is wide. Monitors are more or less the opposite. The theropods also had extensive cranial ornamentation in the form of horns, frills, bosses, and the like. Monitors are sleeker and more functional.
Kimmy rocks are known to be rather delicate. Green tree ... I would probably suggest experience with hardier monitor species first.

Is this the case even with captive-bred individuals? A few of the accounts I've read say that the Green Trees, captive-bred, are more robust and less flighty than the wild-caught individuals. I've seen less about the Kimberly Rocks, however.

All kimmy rocks are captive bred outside of Australia. However, kimmy rocks and captive bred green tree monitors are more delicate than, say, the /V. gouldii/ group, ackies, or, really, most other monitors.
There are ackies, of course. Hardy, friendly, active, within the ... and all in the U.S. and Europe are captive bred.

They're a possibility, though I'm not as keen on that heavily spiny-looking tail... but the babies are relatively cute little ... all ackies regardless of gender have really rough-looking tails? Are 'red' ackies smoother/larger/anything other than more expensive than 'yellow' ackies?

Red ackies are a different subspecies. Both are reddish-brown, but the reddish brown of the reds is more brick red, while the yellows are more brown. Yellow ackies have a less spiney tail than the reds.
The /Varanus tristis/ monitors (freckled goannas, black head goannas) also meet your criteria, are quite hardy, and are fairly slender.

Now, the V. tristis group does intrigue me. They're pretty close to my absolute ideal, size and shape-wise, and I'd love to hear from anyone who's got one (or a pair, or whatever) - pros, cons, caveats and suggestions.

They're supposed to be somewhat high strung, although not as bad as, say, Timors or Niles. They are fast moving partially arboreal critters. Provide vertical hide spots in the form of cork rounds or stacked vertical cork flats in addition to soil for digging. Branches for climbing would probably be appreciated, although not necessary.

Luke

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